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Old 5th November 2020, 05:23 AM   #12
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 8,398

Hi Marc
Sorry for not responding on this. Actually while there is some degree of interest in the markings on blades, it is a topic not deeply studied nor referenced.
Mostly there is information included describing or noting markings but little iif anything on their meanings or regional applications.

With this I am referring to the native markings on North African sword blades of course. Regarding European markings, these do have a certain amount of reference in a number of compendiums of makers who have registered markings. These were somewhat controlled administratively so using those records numbers of collections of these are available in certain references.

These have been discussed here often over the past 20 years and using the search by describing the mark, i.e. running wolf; sickle marks etc. you will find threads on them.

However it is important to note that while many markings are listed for makers, there is a wide range of marks which were not specific to any particular maker, but applied generally as quality marks.

These were widely copied by native makers and importers, and these were often perceived in the sense of what the native folk religion or tradition perceived. For example, the cross and orb used in Germany and placed on blades in the manner noted re: quality, etc. was viewed by some tribes in Sudan as 'drum and sticks', an important symbol relegated to chiefs or important tribal figures.
The cross was seen not religiously, but as an indicator of the four cardinal directions and used symbolically in various reference to universality or encompassing power.

While many European blades did enter North Africa which were either surplus or trade intended, and were marked...there were indeed numbers of 'blanks' which did come in later in 19th c. whose numbers and disposition are unclear. After the Franco-Prussian war ended suddenly, Solingen was a bit overextended and produced numbers of these blades for export.

It is a very broad topic of course, and pretty much requires examples being examined on individual merits as organized or categorized classifications in these cases are not exactly feasible ordinarily. Still it is a good idea to try to assemble groupings as much as possible. I know, Ive been trying for well over 25 years now

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